How Dogs Smell

Beagle Smell

Beagle Smell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you know that dogs have practically miraculous smellers?  You did?  Okay, then, did you know that dogs can also smell the past and the future?  Aha, I thought not!  Neither did I.

During the process of getting back to my blog and at least finishing the multi-part series What to Do in Case of Pet Grief, I came across this fascinating post* with the following, compelling sub-title:

Two dogs smell each other on the street in Mil...

Two dogs smell each other on the street (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did You Know That Your Dog’s Nose Can Smell The Past, The Future, And Even Things That Cannot Be Seen At All?

Naturally, I had to rush to read it…and I came away amazed.  I have always loved my dogs pretty much unreservedly just because they were, well, part of my family and because they were dogs.  In my mind, I accepted that they were in many ways less capable than humans at many tasks, while also vaguely acknowledging that they were superior at other tasks, like sense of smell, night vision, motor skills, and so on.

After watching this video, I sat for a moment, letting my brain digest the wonders I had just seen.  My respect for canines, already a respectable size, grew astronomically.  All the things these wonder-critters could do–tracking, diagnosing, giving therapy AND sympathy…the list goes on!

Watch this for yourself.  I would cherish any insights on how it affected you in the comments below.

* Video reblogged from the Freekibble site
Text portion copyright 2015 by Sandra Bell Kirchman
All rights reserved by respective copyright holders.


There’s a Dog on the Roof!

"Not another animal abuse story!" (Photo credit:

“Not another animal abuse story!” (Photo credit: FrameAngel |

All too often we animal lovers are bombarded with stories and images of animal cruelty and abuse. Sometimes I find it heart-breaking to wade through this stuff. I know it’s necessary to keep informed and aware of what’s going on in our communities, but there are times when it’s all just too much.  That’s why finding a story like this resonates with a happy heart.

Apparently, Isis, a rottweiler-doberman mix, was inadvertently abandoned in a house, with the owner claiming he thought she had either run away or been stolen by the people who broke into his home in Yorkton, Ohio. The dog had made her way to the attic and thence through a weak part of the ceiling to land on the roof. There she cowered for three days, without food and water, before someone happened to look up and discover her. What happened next was wonderful.

(Reported on YouTube by KHON2 news, Hawaii.  First published on 11/9/14 by WKBN/CNN.)

I loved this story. However, I do wonder why she didn’t bark. Any ideas? (The news story didn’t say.)

NOTE:  I am hoping to have the Overcoming Grief story next week. We’ll see. In the meantime, HAPPY NEW YEAR for a furry wonderful 2015.

UPDATE to the above story:  The dog has been renamed “Roofie” and adopted by one of the firefighters who rescued her. Click here for the full story from WKBN.

George the Dog Helps Homeless Papa

animalframeHundreds of rag-to-riches stories tumble through the internet and onto our computer screens.  I am grateful for them.  After news abounding with so many horrifying stories, it’s great to know someone has hit the jackpot.  How was anyone to know that gorgeous George would be the doggie leprechaun to hand the pot of gold over to his papa, John, no strings attached?  All it required was some artistic effort on John’s part to change his (and George’s) life forever.  Here’s the story:

John Dolan and George the Dog on Shoreditch High Street [London, England] Copyright notice from Wikipedia:  The copyright holder of this file, Will Robson Scott, allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed.
John Dolan and George the Dog on Shoreditch High Street [London, England]
Copyright notice from Wikipedia: The copyright holder of this file, Will Robson Scott, allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed.

Homeless Man Turns His Life Around By Creating Drawings of His Dog*

by Grieves, Deirdre

*(Article originally published at Pet360)

Three years ago, John Dolan was homeless and living on the streets of London. He was battling drug abuse and a life of crime that resulted in multiple prison stays. It was a vicious cycle and Dolan didn’t think there was any way out.

But one day a fellow homeless woman gave Dolan a Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy named George, and that’s when his life began to change.

According to the Guardian, when Dolan was entrusted to watch over George, he had the realization that if he went back to prison, there would be no one to look after his dog.

So Dolan cleaned up his act. He began to draw sketches of George while begging on the street and people started buying them for a couple dollars here and there.

Then, a chance encounter with Richard Howard-Griffin, a street art connoisseur and gallery owner, marked the beginning of a whole new life for Dolan and his dog. Howard-Griffin decided to show Dolan’s illustrations and art at his Shoreditch neighborhood gallery. The show sold out and Dolan quickly skyrocketed to success in the art world.

Now, some of Dolan’s drawings sell for thousands of dollars and the success has helped Dolan and George get off the streets. Dolan recently wrote a book about his struggles and successes called “John and George: The Dog Who Changed My Life.” Dolan will soon host his first gallery show abroad in Los Angeles.

Dolan credits George with saving his life. “I feel like he’s a guardian angel,” he told reporters. “If it hadn’t been for him I’d have never picked up my pen.”

Check out John’s sketches of George the Dog here!

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Copyright © 2014 by Pet360

Wanted: Good home for Marine Corps working dogs*

Think you could provide a good home to a retiring Marine Corps IED detection dog?


You might get the chance to adopt one if you send in an application, said Bill Childress, head of the Marine Corps Military Working Dog program. But you may have to get in line.

While some 100 dogs will be moved to new situations as the Marine Corps ends its IDD capability, Childress said they’re giving top priority to Defense Department programs, then law enforcement agencies and police departments that need working dogs. Former handlers also receive preference, and can ask to adopt the dog they worked with by referencing the animal’s name and the identification number tattooed on its ear.

Since IDDs may have a different handler for each combat deployment, it’s possible that multiple former handlers may request the same dog, Childress said. In those cases, he said, officials with the program exercise their best judgment to determine who is best qualified to adopt the former four-legged teammate. Handlers who have been wounded in combat often get the first chance to adopt their dogs, he said.

“We get the other ones together and tell them, this guy lost a leg, an arm,” Childress said. “Most of them say, ‘Hey, no problem.’ They sort of work together. Handlers have a pretty good bond.”

Though taking home a beautiful and highly trained Belgian malinois for the cost of transporting the dog might sound like a good deal, Childress warned that many of the dogs have medical issues that might require extensive resources or attention. In addition to combat injuries, he said, a number of former IDDs display symptoms of CPTSD — canine post-traumatic stress disorder — that can make the animals anxious or skittish.

“Sometimes you’ve got to understand, if you adopt this dog, it might have a $200-a-month medical bill,” he said. “A lot of times, a vet in the area will end up adopting that dog.”

Dog handler Sgt. Michael Hile prepares his par...

Dog handler Sgt. Michael Hile prepares his partner “Rronnie” to be hoisted by a helicopter. Original caption: :”BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (July 15, 2007) – 1st Sgt. Dean Bissey hooks the hoist harness to Staff Sgt. Michael Hile and his military working dog “Rronnie” (spelled with two “Rs”). Photo by Spc. Aubree Rundle, U.S. Army.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To start the adoption process:

■ Fill out the three-page military working dog application, located at

■ Email the completed document to

■ If you’re specifically interested in an IDD, email for an application.

Childress said officials try to accommodate the requests of prospective adoptive households, while making sure the requested animal is a good fit for the adoptive home and circumstances.

“If you want to adopt a Belgian malinois that’s been patrol trained — and say that you’ve got two small kids, a baby and a 1-year-old — we might not let you adopt that dog,” he said. “How about a Lab[rador], something a little friendlier for your kids.”

Childress said he’s working to find new situations for the remaining Marine IDDs by the first quarter of next year.

BONUS – 3 Common Animal Shelter Myths Debunked*

You can discover your new best friend at  an animal shelter.

You can discover your new best friend at  an animal shelter.

Finding a pet is like finding a best friend. You know when you meet it that this is your new pal. But the journey to finding the perfect pet can be challenging. Many people know of a shelter near them, but choose to look for a breeder instead because they believe a few myths. However, you can discover your new best friend at an animal shelter. Here are three of the most common myths debunked:

1. You won’t know the pet’s history
Some shelters have a lot of information on a pet, such as its breed, age, personality and past home life. Other times, the shelter just doesn’t know. Ask the shelter if the animals have been fostered in the past and you may be able to gather more information to help you make a decision.

2. All the animals are old
While many shelter pets are older, you can find puppies and kittens as well. Shelters house a variety of pets of all ages and breeds. Besides, you might find that an older pet is the perfect fit for you and your family.

3. These pets are homeless for a reason
The pets are in a shelter for many reasons. Some were pulled from abusive situations and others simply couldn’t find a home. That doesn’t mean the animals themselves are unlovable. If you give your shelter pet all the love you have, it will develop into an amazing companion.

Photo of a dog behind a chain-link fence at th...

A dog behind a chain-link fence at the Paws and More No Kill Animal Shelter in Washington, Iowa.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What To Do If You See A Yellow Ribbon on a Dog’s Leash

What To Do If You See A Yellow Ribbon on a Dog’s Leash ** (Reblogged)

by July 15, 2013

What To Do If You See A Yellow Ribbon on a Dog’s Leash

Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite, back by popular demand. It was originally posted on October 9, 2012. 

Anyone who has ever had an infirmed, unsocial or elderly dog is going to love The Yellow Dog Project, a global movement for parents of dogs that need space. The concept behind it is quite simple.  If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon or other items tied to its leash, that signifies a dog who needs space and you should not attempt to pet the dog or bring your own dog over for a greeting.  Now here’s an idea that’s long overdue.

The Yellow Dog Project has now made its mark in 45 countries and educational materials have been translated into 12 languages. Fans are calling it, “Brilliant” and “The best thing to happen since the invention of the leash!”

Recently, I was walking my two dogs on some trails behind the local elementary school.  I go there because of the open fields and because few people come through the area in the evening.  My dogs need space. I have an elderly Labrador with laryngeal paralysis (a condition which inhibits a dog’s ability to breath when he is warm or excited).  It’s very important to keep him calm, and with my mid-sized terrier mix boinging alongside him, I already have my hands full in keeping the walks safe for both of them.

But then along comes a man with absolutely no boundaries. As he made a bee-line for us I hollered out, “Please don’t bring your dog over.” His response was, “Don’t worry he’s friendly.”  And with that he let go of his dog’s leash and says, “Go get ’em!”

Now here I am holding the hand of a small child and balancing two leashes in my hand, trying not to let the dogs tangle or to allow my elderly dog to get any sort of additional stimulation, and this dog comes at us like a bowling ball.  As expected, it was a mess.  My two dogs got tangled around one another.

My older dog felt threatened and the oncomer snapped at him.  My daughter was frightened and this guy just casually saunters over with no regard for the fall out. I had to ask him two more times to please move away with his dog before he finally understood.  By that time, my elderly dog was gasping for air and I had to kneel on the ground with him for a full 15 minutes before he could recover.

These days we have a yellow bandana tied around both leashes and look forward to the day when this concept is widely embraced by the pet loving community. You can visit The Yellow Dog Project.

This news has been brought to you by The Great Animal Rescue Chase tournament of heroes.


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** I came across the above story and infodiagram in a Care2 email link.  I was intrigued since I had never heard of the Yellow Dog Project.  I thought I would toss it in here so that you will know what to do (or rather, what not to do) when you see a dog with a yellow ribbon or other yellow item on its leash.

(Watch next week for “The Many Colours of Doggy Love – Part 1”)

My Hero Dog – Part 3 – by Debbie Norman

In the last two weeks, we gasped in horror at the terrible accident that put guest columnist Debbie Norman in mortal danger.  Go to Part 1 and Part 2 for previous parts of the story.  We left where Debbie was losing consciousness on a cold January day, unable to reach her house for the warmth and help she needed to survive, while her dog CoCo continued her efforts to keep Debbie awake and striving.  We offer the final segment of the story below.

MY HERO DOG (Part 3)

 by Dorky Deb (aka Debbie Norman)
Copyright © April 25, 2013 by Debbie Norman
All rights reserved.
Reblogged from Mrs. Norman’s blog

While this was going on, my husband woke up.  He went to the bathroom and thought he heard me call for help.  But he barely heard it.  He yelled for me and I didn’t answer.  He checked all over the house and couldn’t find me.  He looked in the basement, I wasn’t there either.  And then he opened the back door, and found me, about halfway up the sidewalk.

He dialed 911...   Photo credit:  Debbie Norman

…and he called 911. Photo credit: Stuart Miles | Free Digital Photos

I was so happy to see him!!!  He took care of the dogs and me, and he called 911.  I just wanted him to put me in the car and go! But being a nurse, he knew that the right thing to do was to not move my leg any further. He was concerned one of my broken bones might cut a vein and cause me to bleed severely.  He put lots of blankets under me and on me, and instructed me not to move anymore. Moving around a broken limb is not a good thing, and I did develop compartment syndrome in the leg.  (If you don’t know what compartment syndrome is, I don’t recommend googling it, if you plan to eat anytime soon.

In the ambulance, they said my body temperature was way too low and my blood pressure was dangerously low.  On the ride to the hospital, I remember the paramedic saying how lucky I was, that I didn’t get much colder.  He’d take my BP and say, “How did you not pass out?” I said, “My dog wouldn’t stop licking my nose.”    🙂 It was just a freak accident.  But I could have died that day.

So after that, I called her my hero dog. In my opinion, she saved my life, by preventing me from passing out in the cold. She was so happy to see me when I got back from the hospital.  I’m guessing she had been worried the entire time.  I think she had some measure of relief when she knew my husband had found me.  But I don’t think she truly relaxed until she saw me for herself and knew I was ok.

She kept that sort of devotion to me her entire life.

Recently, her head started swelling. At first the vet thought it might be a severe sinus infection. But then the swelling went away, and it became apparent that something worse was going on. She was diagnosed with cancer.

We tried to make her as comfortable as possible.  Photo credit:  Debbie Norman

…and tried to make her as comfortable as possible. (Debbie and Coco, April 15, 2013) – Photo credit: Debbie Norman

We brought her home and tried to make her as comfortable as possible. The last few weeks have been very hard. Stress makes MG (the neuromuscular disease that I have) flare.  So it’s been rough. My body has fought me every step of the way. I’ve cried so much.

Losing your dog never gets any easier, no matter how old you get, or how many dogs you’ve lost over the years.  In fact, I think it gets harder. It killed me that she saved me and I couldn’t save her. I tried. I tried so hard to save her. But, like my husband reminded me, we saved her when we rescued her and we gave her eight good years. I’m trying to think of it that way.

She spent a lot of time the past few weeks sleeping in her beloved crate, on her pile of fluffy white dog towels.  She always did love laundry. So I put lots of extra dog towels in her crate when she got sick and I gave her clean ones each morning, and during the day when needed.  Fresh towels always made her wag her tail and smile. I would sit with her as much as I could.

And when she got till she couldn’t walk, we would carry her outside to enjoy the sunshine.  As weak as she got, she kept this fantastic attitude.  Always bright-eyed, always wagging her tail.

See her giving that wasp the evil eye?  Photo credit:  Debbie Norman

Monday, April 22, 2013.  See her giving that wasp the stink eye?  This was right before she lunged at it, even though she couldn’t stand.  She never stopped looking out for me.      Photo credit: Debbie Norman

Monday, we spent the whole day outside as a family. She sat on my lap, or at my feet, and enjoyed the warm sunshine. We watched birds and chipmunks, and watched the kids play. She even tried to get a couple of wasps that got near me!

See that look of satisfaction...  Photo credit: Debbie Norman

I love that look of satisfaction on her face, that she scared it [the wasp] off, as she watches it fly away.  Photo credit: Debbie Norman

She was so content.  It was a truly special day.

It was a special day.  Photo credit:  Debbie Norman

It was truly a special day. Photo credit: Debbie Norman

After Monday, things got worse. Yesterday, Wednesday April 24, 2013, we said goodbye.  Perhaps it’s not goodbye, perhaps it’s see you later.  I believe dogs go to Heaven.  And if they do, then I should have quite the warm welcome waiting on me someday.  In the meantime, I will treasure the memories.


Coco was never anything but good.  Photo credit: Debbie Norman

I wish she could have lived longer.  My heart is broken that she is gone.  But we had a great eight years together and I can honestly say that in her entire life, she never did one bad thing – ever. I’ve been blessed with the companionship of some wonderful dogs during my life.  But I think she’s the only one that I can truly say that about.  Not one bad thing, ever.

Have you ever had the sad experience of losing a pet? What kinds of things did you do to help ease your pain? If you would like to share that story, please just enter a comment at the bottom of this post where it obligingly says, “Leave a Comment.”

 (Next week watch for “Mosquitoes and Wood Ticks and Fleas, Oh My!” by Sandra Bell Kirchman)

 Column and introductory text copyright
© 2013 by Sandra Bell Kirchman
MY HERO DOG title, content and pictures
copyright © 2013  by Debbie Norman
All rights reserved by the respective authors.
(Volume 14-5.3, May 17, 2014)


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